7-Eleven Japan to open unmanned stores

7-Eleven Japan is planning to open small, unmanned stores in a turning point for Japan’s retail industry, reports Nikkei Asia.

The stores, which will be in areas that were previously difficult to open in the past, such as inside factories and tower condominiums, will have an area of approximately 50 square metres and offer 1200 products such as rice balls, bread, chilled box lunches, daily necessities, and freshly brewed coffee.

Customers will use a dedicated app to scan a QR code when entering the store, then scan the barcode of the item they wish to purchase using their phone and pay with a debit or credit card, with no need for cash.

The stores will be operated by a single employee, reports Nikkei Asia, who will be responsible for tasks such as stocking products and ordering.

7-Eleven Japan already operates a few experimental stores in Tokyo and Osaka and has begun negotiations with about 20 companies that are interested in installing stores on their premises. Nikkei Asia reports that it aims to have several dozen unmanned stores in Japan.

As well as at condominiums and factories, 7-Eleven Japan is considering replacing cafeterias and research institutes with unmanned stores. When choosing the sites, Nikkei Asia reports that a benchmark is locations with at least 500 employees and expected daily sales of at least 100,000 yen ($AUD 1000). The average sales of a regular store stand at around 700,000 yen.

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